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Anoka Personal Injury Law Blog

U.S is # 1 (Not Good News)

In last Tuesday's Star Tribune was a discouraging article concerning a significant increase in traffic deaths in the United States. The United States now leads the world in this category. 29 nations were studied and only five of the 29 saw an increase in traffic deaths between 2010 and 2016, with the US having the highest rate of increase at 13.5%. Sadly, the United States also saw the highest jump in pedestrian deaths during that same timeframe, a 39.2% increase. By contrast, Norway saw a 37.5% decrease in pedestrian deaths during that same timeframe. The authors of the study concluded that the increase appears to be tied to 2 main factors, more cars on the road because of a better economy AND DISTRACTED DRIVING. Another dismal statistic in this report is that the United States has one of the highest rates of road deaths per capita, with 11.6 out of 100,000 people losing their lives to motor vehicle crashes, compared with rates of two or five deaths per 100,000 in countries such as the United Kingdom, Israel, Japan, Germany, Spain and Australia.

Opioid Dealers Win Again

In today's Star Tribune on the Opinion Page was a report on the recently completed legislative session. In particular it dealt with the fact that a bipartisan bill to tax the opioid industry to help pay for some of the damage their drugs have caused, didn't make it to the governor's desk. Lobbyists from the drugmakers succeeded in killing the bill which would have provided about $20 million to help cities defray some of the cost of dealing with the opioid epidemic which was caused, in substantial part, by the drug manufacturers' deceptive marketing schemes. The opinion piece went on to point out that New York recently passed a similar bill, but to the tune of $100 million. Given Minnesota's population compared to that of New York, $20 million is fair.

Banks & Credit Card Companies Win Again

The big banks and the credit card companies recently scored a big win over consumers with the assistance of all of Minnesota's Republican congressional delegation. Every Republican House of Representatives member voted in favor of eliminating a consumer's rights to join class actions when they've been ripped off by their banks or credit card companies. You need to understand that no one can be forced to participate in a class action, it is totally voluntary. But our Republican representatives decided we weren't qualified to make that choice. This works to the benefit of the banks and credit card companies because they know that almost no one is going to go to arbitration over being ripped off to the tune of $30 or $40. Who has the time to do that? On the other hand, for the bank this can be immensely profitable when you multiply that $30 or $40 by millions of customers.

CONCUSSION BRAIN SCANS

One of the major obstacles in presenting and proving that somebody has sustained a permanent brain injury from a concussion is that such brain damage does not show up on a typical MRI or CT scan, much less an x-ray. However, some recent developments have provided some exciting evidence in this regard. There is something called DTI imaging which is a software program that can provide a picture of the disruption in a human brain caused by concussions. The software program works in combination with a very high tech MRI scan using something called a 3T MRI scanner. The results can actually produce a three dimensional image showing the human brain and showing the areas which are not functioning properly as a result of the injury. There are a select few facilities in the entire United States which have and understand this technology. Most recently here in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area a well-known medical imaging facility has acquired this scanning capability and has made arrangements with doctors in California and Alaska who can interpret the results.

Crash Avoidance Technology Underused

In the Star Tribune newspaper this past Thanksgiving day was an article about crash avoidance technology in automobiles and the fact that auto manufacturers have not made it standard equipment yet, despite overwhelming evidence that it is cheap and incredibly effective.

Distracted Driving Seems to be Getting Worse

In today's Star Tribune on page B5 they noted that 2 pedestrians who had been hit in Minneapolis this week had died. Both of these individuals were struck in broad daylight and neither drugs nor alcohol were involved in either crash. Why aren't people paying more attention when they are driving? How much carelessness is necessary to kill someone? Apparently not much. How should the families of these individuals be compensated? Should they be compensated less for their losses because the careless driver was just a little bit careless? Or should they be compensated for the full amount of the harm and the losses caused by the carelessness no matter if it was really, really careless or just a little bit careless?

Trampoline Park Injuries

In this morning's Minneapolis Star Tribune there was an article about trampoline park injuries. As these parks have grown in popularity, the number of emergency room visits has also increased dramatically. In the five years ending in 2014 emergency room visits went from 581 in 2010 to 6932 in 2014.

Distracted Driving Deaths Jump


In today's Star Tribune the headline on page 1 read as above. The article went on to note that there was a 21% increase in 2015 in traffic deaths in Minnesota attributed to distracted driving. Perhaps more worrisome is the fact that traffic deaths went up in 2015 over 2014. The good news was that speeding related fatalities were reduced by 17%. Donna Berger, director of the Office of Traffic Safety for the state of Minnesota was interviewed and commented that distractions can come in many forms including eating, grooming, picking up a dropped item or trying to monitor kids in the back seat. It isn't all about texting and driving.

JESSE'S VANISHING VERDICT

In yesterday's Minneapolis Star Tribune There was an article reporting that the appeals court had dismantled former governor Jesse Ventura's $1 million + verdict against the estate of Chris Kyle, who had written his autobiography, "American Sniper". Jesse claimed that in the book the author had written certain things about Jesse which were untrue and which harmed his reputation amongst the Seal community. The verdict had been approved by the trial judge but the appeals court decided that the trial judge was wrong and took away the majority of the verdict on the grounds that the damages that were awarded for unjust enrichment were not allowed by Minnesota law. They took away the rest of the verdict (about $500,000) on the specious grounds that the mere mention of insurance in the trial had been enough to prejudice the jury into reaching a verdict that they otherwise would not have.
It is important to note that the trial judge, who was there and had an opportunity to observe the jury, concluded that the mention of insurance wasn't prejudicial. Yet three judges on the appeals panel WHO WEREN'T THERE decided that it was.
As a practical matter everyone knows there's insurance at the bottom of almost every lawsuit. These three judges know that as well. This was just an excuse for them to get rid of a verdict that they didn't like. Judges and appellate court judges use this insurance fiction for this purpose more than people might think. It is, in my opinion, utter nonsense.